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Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America
Location: On the western bank of the Río de la Plata estuary across from Uruguay, 150 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, Argentina, South America.
Flag: A black eagle with a red beak, wearing a crown and holding a red cross, on a white field.
Time Zone: 9 am = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: 75% Spanish or Italian descent.
Latitude and Longitude: 34°36′S, 58°28′W
Coastline: 20 kilometers (12 mi)along the Río de La Plata.
Climate : Hot, humid summers. The winter months of June to August are mild but humid. Frosts occur from May to September, but snow is extremely rare.
Annual Mean Temperature: Overall 60°F (16°C); summer (December–February) 83°F (28°C); winter (June–Aug) 52°F (11°C).
Average Annual Precipitation: 43.2 inches (1,096 mm)
Government: Elected mayor and legislature, but Federal government makes major decisions affecting the capital city.
Weights And Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: The peso (on par with the U.S. dollar). U.S. dollar is widely accepted.
Telephone Area Codes: Argentina country code: (54); Buenos Aires: (1).
Postal Codes: The Correo Argentino, the privatized postal service, created a 4-letter, 4-number code.
Early in the twentieth century, Buenos Aires, the city of fair winds, became one of the world's great cities. By the tens of thousands, European immigrants sailed across the Atlantic to the "Paris of Latin America" looking for a better life. Money seemed no object in those days. Fueled by the great agricultural wealth that came from the heart-land of the nation, great new buildings and monuments were the order of the day. In 1908, a grand opera house opened its doors to world acclaim and became a symbol of Buenos Aires' wealth and sophistication. By 1913, the city had Latin America's first underground metro system in operation. The city continued growing through two world wars and a global economic crisis in the 1930s.
The city's residents, known as Porteños, or people of the port, were confident and brash. To the people of neighboring countries, the Porteños were arrogant and aloof. The dapper Carlos Gardel epitomized the Porteño during the height of his musical and acting career early in the century. Supremely confident, always well dressed and neatly groomed, Gardel was an ambassador to the Tango, a melancholic music that grew out of the fringes of Buenos Aires.
By the end of the twentieth century, Buenos Aires had managed to retain if not its confidence at least its arrogance as it literally fell apart. In the 1990s, the Porteño media were busy reporting stories about decaying buildings that dropped balconies onto the street like rotten apples falling off trees, the heavy pollution that tainted the city's buenos aires, corruption and police brutality, the proliferation of rats and feral cats, and countless other problems.
Economists and historians are still trying to figure out what went wrong in Argentina. Once the seventh-wealthiest country in the world, it quickly dropped to seventy-seventh by the 1960s. The blame is often placed on the economic policies of former President Juan Domingo Perón, who created the nation's most powerful political movement in the 1950s and attempted to industrialize the nation at the cost of agriculture. Just as devastating to the nation was the brutal military dictatorship of 1976–83, which ruled with an iron fist from the capital city of Buenos Aires. Thousands of Argentineans were killed, and thousands who were arrested were never seen again. In the capital's main Plaza de Mayo, a square in front of the government palace, each Thursday a group of mothers remind the nation of sons and daughters not yet found.
Buenos Aires Population Profile
Area: 200 sq km (77 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 75% Spanish or Italian ancestry; 25% other, including Russian Jews, English, French, German, Lebanese, and Syrian
Nicknames: Inhabitants are known as Porteños (port dwellers or people of the port)
Description: Greater Buenos Aires Metropolitan area (city and 22 suburbs)
Area: 3,680 sq km (1,420 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 10
Percentage of national population 2: 34%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.0%
- The Buenos Aires metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of Argentina's total population living in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
Yet, despite all its problems, Buenos Aires retains much of its old charm. Some of its neighborhoods have not changed at all in the past 100 years and remain a living example of the city's golden age. Millions of people visit Buenos Aires each year. They come to experience the tango, eat at renowned and expensive restaurants, shop at sophisticated boutiques, and visit dozens of museums. Slowly, the city is transforming itself, starting with its long-neglected waterfront. More people are riding the improved subway, which saw declining numbers for decades. Porteños go on, sipping thick espressos and mate, a national drink made from a herb. During long sobremesas, the customary after-meal conversations, they continue to discuss politics and other issues of importance.
Buenos Aires is located on the west bank of the Río de la Plata, at the northeastern edge of the Pampa, a flat plain of rich soil that is to Argentina what the Midwest is to the United States. The Río de la Plata is an estuary of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers that come together to form a broad, shallow, and muddy marine inlet between Uruguay and Argentina.
The national highway system is centered in the city, radiating from there to all of Argentina and neighboring countries. All distances on the national highway system are measured from a 0-kilometer marker located in a small square across from the National Congress building. From there, national highways 1, 2, and 3 (which runs to Tierra del Fuego) serve the southern part of the country. Highways 5 and 7 serve the western part of the country, and highways 8 and 9 serve the north.
Bus, Railroad, and River Service
Three major bus terminals offer daily national and international travel, with departures to dozens of Argentinean cities, and the neighboring countries of Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. Unlike the United States, dozens of bus companies compete for business in Argentina. At bus terminals in Buenos Aires, each company has a desk like an airline ticket counter. Buses have replaced inter-city trains and only the Roca line within Buenos Aires province maintains service. Three companies provide boat and ferry service to the Uruguayan cities of Colonia and Montevideo across the Río de la Plata. Aliscafos has fast hydrofoils. Ferrylineas has hydrofoils and ferries. Buquebus offers a ferry-bus combination to Colonia and Montevideo.
Ezeiza International Airport, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of downtown Buenos Aires, has national and international service, with direct flights to selected cities in the United States. Aerolineas Argentinas, with 150 international and 350 domestic flights per week, is the largest carrier at Ezeiza. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, five minutes north of the downtown area, serves as a regional airport, with some international departures.
The Port of Buenos Aires is the largest in South America and the economic engine of the country. It handles 96 percent of the nation's container traffic and 40 percent of all international transactions measured in U.S. dollars. In 1998, it handled nearly eight million metric tons (nine million tons) of cargo. Sixty maritime companies work out of five terminals handling more than 70 vessels per week. The port has a grain terminal that can handle 170,000 metric tons (187,340 tons). A narrow channel that leads from the port to the mouth of the Atlantic is constantly being dredged to keep the heavy traffic flowing. The port is old, and most of its decaying facilities have not been replaced. Thousands of trucks coming in and out of the port each week contribute to Buenos Aires' critical traffic problem. Five railroad lines serve the port.
Central Buenos Aires is built on a grid parallel to the Río de la Plata. The Plaza de Mayo is a large open square near the waterfront. From here, Buenos Aires grew outward in a semicircle. Rivadavia Avenue, which begins at Plaza de Mayo, continues westward for about 40 kilometers (25 miles).
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||12,431,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1536||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$235||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$72||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$18||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals)||$325||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||28||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||Clarin||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||700,000||1,159,339||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1945||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
Private companies operate the bus system. The fleet serves 299 lines covering 24,135 kilometers (15,000 miles) of roads. The private Subterraneos de Buenos Aires, a subway in operation since 1913, has five underground lines and 63 stations, covering 36.5 kilometers (23 miles) of the city. A light rail line travels 7.4 kilometers (five miles) with 13 stops. Six commuter trains covering 965 kilometers (600 miles) serve Buenos Aires and its suburbs. According to 1988 figures, 73.3 percent of passengers rode buses and trolleys, 16.6 percent rode the metropolitan rail, and ten percent rode the subway. At the same time, nearly one million passenger vehicles crowded the streets.
Many companies offer sightseeing tours in Buenos Aires and the surrounding areas. A train that caters to tourists departs from the Retiro station in Buenos Aires to the northern suburb of Tigre. There are daily departures to the Uruguayan cities of Colonia and Montevideo.
According to Argentina's National Institute of Statistics and Census, the population of Buenos Aires stood at 3.04 million people (1.65 million women and 1.38 million men) in 1998. The greater metropolitan area had 13.9 million people, making it one of the largest urban concentrations in the world. The densely populated city has 15,201 inhabitants per square kilometer. Nearly 11 percent of the city's residents are foreigners. In the year 2000, 16.8 percent of residents were over the age of 65, and 17.5 percent were under the age of 14.
Most Porteños are the descendants of immigrants from Spain and Italy who came to Argentina in large numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, long after the conquering Spaniards pushed off the indigenous people from the area. Many other Europeans have settled in Buenos Aires, including Germans, British, and Jews from central and Eastern Europe. More than 400,000 Jews live in the city, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. In the 1990s, Buenos Aires was the focus of anti-Semitism. An explosion killed 29 people at the Israeli Embassy in 1992, and another bomb destroyed a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 87 people.
Non-European immigration historically was not welcomed, but there are many people from the Middle East, including Syria and Lebanon. They are collectively known as turcos (Turks). The term sometimes is used in a derogatory manner. Despite their small numbers, some have risen to national prominence, including President Carlos Menem, who is of Syrian ancestry.
In the 1930s, large numbers of poor immigrants from Northern Argentina moved to Buenos Aires looking for work. The newcomers were mostly Mestizo (mixed Indian and European). Today, Mestizos make up about one-third of the population of the city, and many of them remain in poverty. Some live in the villas miserias (villages of misery), shantytowns in the outskirts of the city, and in crowded conditions near the heart of the city. In more recent years, many Bolivians, Peruvians, Paraguayans, and Uruguayans have moved to Buenos Aires.
The national language is Spanish, but many other languages are spoken in the city, including Italian, German, and English. One of the oldest English-language newspapers in the Americas, The Buenos Aires Herald, has been in circulation since 1876. A colorful slang known as Lunfardo is spoken in the city's slums and waterfront neighborhoods. Argentineans and neighboring Chileans often refer to the Spanish language as Castellano (Castilian).
The capital city is divided into 48 barrios, or neighborhoods. Most are working-class barrios, while others resemble the rich enclaves of Los Angeles and New York City. Buenos Aires developed outward from the Plaza de Mayo, the historic square that is surrounded by the presidential palace known as the Casa Rosada (pink house), the colonial Town Hall (cabildo), and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
As the city grew, it turned its back on its working waterfront, physically and metaphorically. The Casa Rosada looked toward the Pampas, not the Río de la Plata. By the 1990s, city officials shifted gears and developed a plan to revive the waterfront. Millions of dollars were pumped into the new water-front neighborhood of Puerto Madero. A marina was built, and expensive restaurants and shops opened in the old brick warehouses. The latest census showed a few hundred people lived in the neighborhood.
West of Puerto Madero, in an area generally known as the centro (down-town), buildings date to the nineteenth century. To the south, in the barrio San Telmo, visitors can still see many buildings from the colonial era. The barrio was once a fashionable address, where the wealthier Porteños settled in large homes. In the nineteenth century, the elite abandoned San Telmo to escape yellow fever and moved further inland and north of the centro. They settled in barrios known as Palermo, Recoleta, and Retiro, today home to middle and upper-class Porteños.
San Telmo declined for many decades, and many homes became conventillos, cramped and unkempt living quarters for poor immigrants. Today, San Telmo is considered an artist's quarter, with low rents, and many antique stores and restaurants. Some areas have been restored and gentrified.
South of San Telmo is the famous and colorful barrio of La Boca (mouth), a mostly working class neighborhood that got its start at the mouth of the Riachuelo River. Originally, Italian immigrants settled in La Boca. They worked in the neighborhood's meat salting plants, which brought prosperity to Buenos Aires in the nineteenth century. Tourists flock to Caminito, a pedestrian walkway named after a famous tango, an Argentinean form of ballroom dancing that got its start on the fringes of Buenos Aires in the late 1880s. Caminito is flanked by modest homes brightly painted in an array of colors. During the day, artists sell their work, and couples show their tango steps to tourists.
North of Plaza de Mayo, the city opens up into large avenues, pedestrian walkways, and large parks. The cultural and business center of the nation is here. Avenida Santa Fe, lined by expensive restaurants and boutiques, is typical of the Barrio Norte, which includes the neighborhoods of Recoleta, Palermo, and Retiro, among others. Recoleta has remained a chic address, even for the dead. Some of the wealthiest and most famous Argentineans, including the cultural icon Eva Perón, are buried at the Cementerio de la Recoleta in the heart of the neighborhood.
Detached single-family homes are quite rare in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, families lived in row houses with interior patios or gardens. As the population grew more rapidly, two-and three-story buildings separated by a common wall were built. These buildings were known as petit hotels. In the twentieth century, detached high-rise apartment buildings began to dominate the landscape. In the Barrio Norte, these buildings stretch for many blocks. Some of them take up a whole block. According to government figures, about five percent of the population lives in substandard housing. In metropolitan Buenos Aires, the typical living unit in the villas miserias is a corrugated metal shack.
In 1536, the Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza—under orders by the Spanish kingdom to establish a settlement—and 1,600 of his men camped on a bluff overlooking the Río de la Plata. To the west, and stretching as far as the eye could see, lay the Pampa, a flat plain of rich soil. Relations with the Querandí (an indigenous people who populated this part of the continent) quickly deteriorated, and the Spaniards were forced to leave five years later. More than four decades would pass before the Spaniards attempted to settle the area again.
In 1580, Juan de Garay (c. 1528–1583) and 300 people settled at the mouth of the Río Riachuelo and reestablished the city of Buenos Aires. They discovered that cattle and horses brought by Mendoza's men had multiplied and spread across the Pampa, easing their attempts to settle the area. In time, the domestication of wild horses and cattle and life in the vast Pampa would have a profound impact on the culture of Argentina and Buenos Aires' rise to power.
For 200 years, Buenos Aires remained a sleepy, isolated town, governed by the Viceroyalty of Peru. (A viceroyalty is a province ruled by a governor in the name of the Spanish King.) Buenos Aires' growth was hampered by Spain's rigid trade regulations, which allowed only certain ports to handle goods destined for Spain. Any goods from Argentina traveled over vast distances by land to the Peruvian port of Callao, where they were shipped to Panama and then transferred to ships going to Spain.
The great distance between Lima and Buenos Aires helped Porteños establish their own distinct identity. The isolation and vastness of the Pampa gave rise to a unique culture as well. The Pampa became synonymous with the Gaucho, the celebrated Argentinean cowboy whose image was resurrected as a symbol of national identity.
By the early eighteenth century, the fertile and well-irrigated land west and north of Buenos Aires was producing thousands of tons of cereal and dried beef and thousands of cattle hides. Financed by British capital, smugglers exported the goods through the Port of Buenos Aires to markets in Brazil and the Caribbean Islands, much to the consternation of Spain, which could not stop the illegal trade. In 1776, the Spanish kingdom named Buenos Aires the capital of the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. Many factors led to that decision. Chief among them was the growing economic importance of Buenos Aires and the entire region. Spain also sought to deflate British influence and collect more taxes from the growing commerce.
The British, of course, would not give up so easily on Buenos Aires. British troops attempted to invade the city in 1806 and 1807 but were soundly defeated by local forces. Already infused with a strong sense of self-identity, the victories over the British boosted Argentine nationalism among Porteños. By 1808, when French commander Napoleon Bonaparte's forces invaded Spain, the citizens of Buenos Aires began to question their allegiance to the Spanish kingdom. Two years later, in May of 1810, Buenos Aires severed its ties with Spain. But the surrounding provinces did not follow suit until 1816, when they declared their independence and named Buenos Aires the new capital of the United Provinces of Río de la Plata. By then, Buenos Aires had become a dominant force in the region, and neighboring provinces attempted to curve its power. Following a long period of unrest and a power struggle, Buenos Aires emerged even stronger and was named the federal capital of Argentina in 1880. Heavy British investment had sustained growth in the region during this time, and by the late 1880s, Buenos Aires was becoming one of the wealthiest and most important cities in the world. Porteños began to call their city the Paris of South America and embarked on an ambitious construction program. Beautiful mansions and buildings, wide avenues, expensive hotels, and restaurants became permanent fixtures in the city's landscape. The Teatro Colón, an architectural jewel used for ballet, opera, and classical music, opened in 1908 to world acclaim.
With massive immigration from Spain and Italy to keep the factories and farms spinning around the clock, the city's population grew from about 90,000 people in 1851 to 1.3 million people by 1910. By the beginning of World War I (1914–18), Argentina had become one of the world's top exporters of agricultural products, with most of it channeled through the Port of Buenos Aires. Yet, few benefited from the wealth. Large numbers of newcomers were forced into substandard housing. Workers could barely feed their families on low wages. Social unrest in the city reached a boiling point in 1919, when the army attacked metalworkers on strike. The suppression of the workers came to be known as La Semana Trágica (The Tragic Week).
Buenos Aires kept on growing rapidly. By the 1930s, the city embarked on a modernization project, tearing down colonial neighborhoods and narrow streets and replacing them with modern buildings and wide avenues. Suburban communities and Buenos Aires grew closer to each other, becoming a massive metropolis after World War II (1939–45). The mid-twentieth century also marked a dramatic shift in migration. By 1930, international immigration came to a halt. The new migrants were mostly mestizos from northern Argentina. They poured into the city by the thousands. Unable to find suitable housing, they settled in the villas miser-ias around the city.
The centralization of jobs, goods, and services in Buenos Aires brought prosperity to the city at the cost of other cities, where growth simply stopped. In time, it also hurt Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires today is a tired but proud city. It is obsessed with trying to fix its decaying infrastructure, to alleviate its heavy pollution, and to deal with massive poverty and chronic unemployment. Argentine officials have attempted to decentralize government by moving the federal city to other regions of Argentina; however, their attempts have not been successful.
Like Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires is a federal district. It is home to the President of the Republic and National Congress. Unlike Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires has a voting member in Congress.
Until 1996, the president appointed the mayor of Buenos Aires, and the elected city council had negligible power. By law, the president and congress controlled any legislation that affected the city.
But constitutional reforms allowed Fernando de la Rúa to become the city's first elected mayor in 1996. In 1999, he was considered a top contender for the presidency. The city council was replaced with an elected 60-member Poder Legislativo (legislative power). The members are elected by proportional representation to four-year terms. City officials, including the mayor, are allowed to run for two consecutive terms but must sit out for a full term before running for office again.
Statistics from the Buenos Aires government show a sharp increase in crime between 1991 and 1996. Crimes reported to police increased from 42,796 in 1991 to 126,920 in 1996. Homicides rose from 19 to 177 during the same period. Of great concern to the Buenos Aires population are crimes committed by police. In 1998, the United Nations Committee Against Torture reported its concerns over growing police brutality in Buenos Aires and the rest of the nation. Amnesty International, a London-based human rights organization, also noted police obstruction to prevent investigations of police brutality, the atrocious treatment of prisoners, and attacks against the media.
Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina was ruled from Buenos Aires by a brutal dictatorship responsible for the murder of thousands of Argentineans, many of them in the capital city, where the police and military acted as a repressive force. As many as 9,000 Argentineans are among the "disappeared," people whose bodies have not been found. In recent years, Buenos Aires' new government has attempted to curb police abuses such as bribery and brutality by decriminalizing some activities, including prostitution and public drunkenness.
Throughout its history, the city has depended on its port, the largest in South America, for much of its economic activity. Argentina is heavily dependent on the export of its agricultural products, and most of it is processed and shipped from Buenos Aires. The intense trade helped Buenos Aires develop a diversified economy, and by the twentieth century the city was the nation's center of banking and finance. The city itself was unable to absorb the massive growth in trade-related and new industries during the twentieth century. Most of those jobs went to the suburbs, where about half of the nation's manufacturing jobs are located. Avellaneda, just south of the Federal District, is an important industrial center.
While most workers are engaged in food processing, including grains, meat, and fish, others assemble cars, refine oil, or work in other factories. In the city, the workforce numbers about 1.4 million people, with about 36 percent involved in services, 18 percent in trade, 17 percent in manufacturing, and about 12 percent in finance, insurance, and real estate.
As part of its economic plan, Argentina privatized many public assets during the 1990s, including many enterprises that affect the city. Some of the most important former public services that been sold or licensed to private companies include the phone company ENTel, the national airline Aerolineas Argentinas, the petroleum enterprise YPF, the mail system, and public transportation, including the underground metro service and regional commuter rail service.
The Riachuelo River is the most visible example of Buenos Aires' environmental problems. The river is littered with rusted ships, many of them barely floating on water that is heavily saturated with oil. The sediments are even a worse problem, with untold concentrations of heavy metals and chemical pollutants. The Río de la Plata also is heavily contaminated. Cleaning the waterways remains one of the city's most pressing problems. With hundreds of thousands of cars, buses, and trucks on the roads, the air is heavily polluted. The city also has reported serious problems with feral (wild) cats and mice.
Buenos Aires is famous for its leather and woolen goods. Leather jackets, saddles, boots, and many other items are sold at many expensive shops in the northern barrios of the city. Some downtown streets lined by shops have been closed to automobiles and turned into pedestrian malls. Buenos Aires is a well-read city, and hundreds of bookstores offer books in many languages. Expensive shops and malls similar to those in the United States are found throughout the city and the metropolitan area.
Porteños are among the best-educated people in the world, with high literacy rates and school completion rates. The world-renowned University of Buenos Aires (1821) had more than 180,000 students enrolled in 1997. Its faculty members have earned Nobel Prizes in science and medical fields. In the Spanish-speaking world, Buenos Aires is a publishing powerhouse and home to important literary figures. In 1997, 664,273 students attended primary and secondary school. Most primary and secondary schools are public, including special national high schools that function as college preparatory schools. The Roman Catholic Church also operates many private institutions, including two universities: Salvador University and Roman Catholic University. Other important institutions of higher learning are the private University of Belgrano, the National Conservatory of Music, and the National School of Fine Arts.
13. Health Care
In 1995, Buenos Aires had more than 1,000 medical facilities, including 181 hospitals. More than 23,000 hospital beds are available at private and public hospitals. Many Argentineans come to Buenos Aires for special care not available in other parts of the country. The city has seven physicians per 1,000 residents.
Buenos Aires is Argentina's media capital, with 49 book publishers, 29 periodicals, 14 daily newspapers, 12 foreign press offices, six television stations, and three news agencies. Newspapers in Buenos Aires have clearly defined political leanings, with some of them claiming a centrist position. The tabloid Clarín, with a daily circulation of 600,000 and more than one million on Sundays, is the world's largest Spanish-language newspaper. La Nación (1870) is one of the oldest and most respected newspapers in Latin America. The English-language Buenos Aires Herald has been publishing daily since 1876. Pagina 12 is a left-leaning newspaper known for its investigative pieces.
Buenos Aires and the greater metropolitan area are home to some of the most celebrated professional soccer teams in the world. Many of the top clubs got their start in Buenos Aires before moving to the suburbs. Eight of the 20 first-division teams are in the capital city, while five are in the suburbs. Among the best-known teams are Boca Juniors, which plays at the famous La Bombonera stadium, and its arch-rival River Plate, which plays in the wealthy northern barrio of Nuñez. Independiente's home is just south of La Boca in the suburb of Avellaneda. Other well-known teams include Racing Club and San Lorenzo. The national team won the World Cup in Greater Buenos Aires in 1978 when the country hosted the event.
Porteños are not limited to soccer. The country's long history and attachment to horses continue to fuel great interest in polo, horse racing and pato (duck), a game similar to polo that owes its root to Gaucho culture. Pato was once a violent game played with a real duck encased in a leather bag. Serious injuries were common. But the game has mellowed, and pato players now use a ball with handles instead of a real duck. Many other sports are popular in the city, including tennis, boxing, and basketball.
The city has many parks and plazas, and they are quite busy on weekends when Porteños traditionally go out for a stroll. One of the city's largest parks is in Palermo. Within its grounds are a horse racing arena, polo fields, tennis courts, and bicycle and pedestrian paths. Nearby Plaza Alemania is a favorite hangout for young skateboarders. During the dictatorship years of 1976 to 1983, the military filled a large area in the Río de la Plata just east of the port as part of a plan to create a satellite city. The city never materialized, but birds and other wildlife took over the area. Today, it is known as Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, an ecological reserve popular with birdwatchers.
17. Performing Arts
The Teatro Colón is a beautiful building and symbolic of the importance given to the performing arts. The theater is home to the country's national ballet and national symphony.
In recent years, Porteños have revived and firmly embraced the tango as a symbol of Porteño life. The old tango and the modern, sometimes experimental, tango are performed throughout the city, in important venues, seedy cafes, and often on the streets.
Much like New York City, Buenos Aires has a lively theater culture, especially during the winter season when dozens of new plays open to the public. One of the main venues is the San Martin Municipal Theater, which has three main auditoriums and several smaller ones. Porteños are fond of peñas, a performance where folk songs and dances are accompanied by a hearty Argentinean meal.
Buenos Aires is home to the National Library and dozens of public and private museums, some operated by the municipal government. Several museums are devoted to the history of the city and its residents. They include the Mitre Museum, dedicated to one of Argentina's earliest presidents, Bartolomé Mitre (president 1862–68); Museo de la Ciudad (the City Museum), and a museum dedicated to the economic history of the city and province of Buenos Aires. The Museo del Cine (the Cinema Museum) focuses on the long, and sometimes glorious, history of Argentine cinema. The National Historical Museum offers a portrait of the country, and the National Museum of Theater traces the history of Argentine theater. The National Museum of Fine Arts has the works of many of the world's greatest masters. The collection includes works by Argentinean painters and sculptors.
Buenos Aires is a popular tourist destination, with more than ten million visitors annually. Most visitors are from Argentina and neighboring countries, but large numbers of visitors come from the United States and Europe. Tourism is important to the city's economy. During the summer of 1997–98 (December through March), two-and-a-half million visitors spent more than $900 million. The city has a wide variety of accommodations, from luxury hotels to simple rooms in private homes. In 1997, there were a total of 1,228 places to stay, with more than 84,000 beds. The city has much to offer visitors, from fine dining to sports and cultural activities.
Año Nuevo (New Year's Day, January 1)
Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
Día del Trabajador (Labor Day, May 1)
Revolucíon de Mayo (May Revolution, May 25)
Día de las Malvinas (Day of the Falkland Islands, June 10)
Día de la Bandera (Flag Day, June 20)
Independence Day (July 9)
Día de San Martín (commemoration of San Martín's death)
Día de la Raza (Columbus Day, Oct. 12)
21. Famous Citizens
Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), one of the most important writers in Latin American and world literature.
Manuel Puig (1932–90), novelist, internationally known for his novel Kiss of the Spider Woman (1976).
Luis Maria Drago (1859–1921), statesman who became a respected member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands, best known for the international law called the Drago Doctrine (1907).
Alberto Evaristo Ginastera (1916–83), twentieth-century composer of opera known for combining nationalistic musical idioms with twentieth-century techniques.
While the following notable citizens may not have been born in Buenos Aires, they are closely identified with the city:
Former President Juan Domingo Perón (1895–1974), and his first wife, Eva Perón (1919–1952), both considered to be political and cultural icons of the nation.
Tango singer and actor Carlos Gardel (1890–1935).
Buenos Aires Herald (English-language). [Online] Available http://www.bueonosairesherald.com (accessed April 17, 2000).
Columbus World Travel Guide. "Buenos Aires." [Online] Available http://www.travelguides.com/data/arg/arg140.asp (accessed April 17, 2000).
1600 New Hampshire Ave.
Washington D.C. 20009
Phone: 202 238–6460
5550 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles. CA 90036
Phone: 213 954–9155
205 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60601
Phone: 312 819–2610
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
Direccion General de Turismo de la Municipal-idad de Buenos Aires (tourism offices for the city of Buenos Aires)
Centro Cultural San Martin
Montserrat, Buenos Aires
Direccion Nacional de Turismo (National Tourism Office)
Ave. Santa Fe 883
Retiro, Buenos Aires
Adelman, Jeremy. Republic of Capital: Buenos Aires and the Legal Transformation of the Atlantic World. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
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Baily, Samuel L. and Franco Ramella (eds.). One Family, Two Worlds: An Italian Family's Correspondence Across the Atlantic: 1901–22. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
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"Buenos Aires." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cities. 2000. Retrieved June 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3426000015.html
Buenos Aires (bwā´nəs ī´rēz, âr´ēz, Span. bwā´nōs ī´rās), city and federal district (1991 pop. 2,960,976; metropolitan area 11,255,618), the capital of Argentina, E Argentina, on the Río de la Plata. Buenos Aires is inhabited mostly by people of Spanish and Italian extraction, but there are many residents of French, British, German, Eastern European, and Syrian background and some communities of Paraguayans and other Latin Americans.
One of the largest cities of Latin America, Buenos Aires is Argentina's chief port and its financial, industrial, commercial, and social center. Located on the eastern edge of the Pampa, Argentina's most productive agricultural region, and linked with Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil by a great inland river system, the city is the distribution hub and trade outlet for a vast area. The historical importance of its port, one of the world's busiest, has led the citizens of Buenos Aires to call themselves porteños [people of the port]. Meat and dairy products, hides, wool, flax, and linseed oil are the chief exports. Buenos Aires, the most heavily industrialized city of Argentina, is a major food-processing center, with huge meatpacking and refrigeration plants and flour mills. Other leading industries are metalworking, automobile manufacturing, oil refining, printing and publishing, machine building, and the production of textiles, chemicals, paper, clothing, beverages, and tobacco products. Factories began to move into some of the suburbs in the 1980s.
Points of Interest
Buenos Aires is a modern city of great wealth. In its center are the Plaza de Mayo, a square whose buildings include the Casa Rosada [pink house], the office of the Argentine president, and the cabildo, the former meeting place of the colonial town council and now a national museum. The Avenida de Mayo extends from the square to the Palace of the National Congress, c.1 mi (1.6 km) away. Other famous streets are the Avenida 9 de Julio (commemorating the date of Argentina's independence from Spain, July 9, 1816), said to be the world's widest boulevard; Calle Florida, the main shopping thoroughfare; and the Avenida de Corrientes, which is the nucleus of the theater and nightclub district, often called the Broadway of Argentina. Buenos Aires also has many beautiful parks, including Palmero Park. The cathedral (completed 1804) is a well-known landmark containing the tomb of José de San Martín. Among the numerous educational, scientific, and cultural institutions are the Univ. of Buenos Aires and several private universities; the National Library; the Teatro Colón, one of the world's most famous opera houses; and the Museum of Latin American Art (Malba). La Prensa and La Nación are daily newspapers famous throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The city has a subway system and is a railroad hub as well as a center of inland seaborne traffic. Nearby, at Ezeiza, is a large international airport.
The city was first founded in 1536 by a Spanish gold-seeking expedition under Pedro de Mendoza. However, attacks by indigenous peoples forced the settlers in 1539 to move to Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay), and in 1541 the old site was burned. A second and permanent settlement was begun in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who set out from Asunción. Although Spain long neglected Buenos Aires in favor of the riches of Mexico and Peru, the settlement's growth was enhanced by the development of trade, much of it contraband.
In 1617 the province of Buenos Aires, or Río de la Plata, was separated from the administration of Asunción and was given its own governor; a bishopric was established there in 1620. During the 17th cent. the city ceased to be endangered by indigenous peoples, but French, Portuguese, and Danish raids were frequent. Buenos Aires remained subordinate to the Spanish viceroy in Peru until 1776, when it became the capital of a newly created viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, including much of present-day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
Prosperity increased with the gradual removal of restrictions on trade, which formerly had to pass through Lima, Peru. The creation of an open port at Buenos Aires by Charles III of Spain, however, only made the porteños more desirous of separation from the Spanish Empire. In 1806, when Spain was allied with France during the Napoleonic Wars, British troops invaded Buenos Aires; their expulsion by the colonial militia without Spanish help further stimulated the drive for independence from Spain. Another British attack was repelled the following year. On May 25, 1810 (now celebrated as a national holiday), armed citizens of the cabildo, or town council, successfully demanded the resignation of the Spanish viceroy and established a provisional representative government. This action inaugurated the Latin American revolt against Spanish rule.
Argentina's official independence (July 9, 1816) was followed by a long conflict between the unitarians, strongest in Buenos Aires prov., who advocated a centralized government dominated by the city of Buenos Aires, and the federalists, mostly from the interior provinces, who supported provincial autonomy and equality. In 1853 the city and province of Buenos Aires refused to participate in a constituent congress and seceded from Argentina. National political unity was finally achieved when Bartolomé Mitre became Argentina's president in 1862 and made Buenos Aires his capital. Bitterness between Buenos Aires and the province continued, however, until 1880, when the city was detached from the province and federalized. A new city, La Plata, was built as the provincial capital.
Argentine railroad construction in the second half of the 19th cent. stimulated settlement and cultivation of the pampas, whose products Buenos Aires marketed and exported. The city's spectacular economic development attracted immigrants from all over the world through the 1920s. Shantytowns built on the city's margins remained through the 1950s. The development of the city's transportation system in the 1970s and 80s facilitated economic growth.
"Buenos Aires." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (June 26, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-BuenosAi.html
"Buenos Aires." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-BuenosAi.html
BUENOS AIRES. The southernmost city in the Spanish colonial empire, Buenos Aires was first founded in 1536 and refounded in 1580. It was located on the edge of a large alluvial plain, the Pampas, where a wide estuary, the Río de la Plata, flows to the South Atlantic. Lacking a sedentary indigenous population or a climate suited for tropical export crops, the city languished on the fringes of empire. Although of moderate strategic importance because of its proximity to Portuguese Brazil, Buenos Aires was forbidden from participating in the official trade linking Spain and America. Consequently, the city survived as a contraband center, supplying slaves to the interior in exchange for silver smuggled from the mines of Alto Peru (now Bolivia).
In 1776 Spain carved the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata out of the viceroyalty of Peru; Buenos Aires became the viceregal capital. Included in its jurisdiction were present-day Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile. Two years later, the city was allowed to participate in the new "free trade" network created by Spain. These dramatic changes produced rapid growth in the city's administrative and commercial sectors as well as an increase in the city's population.
Late-eighteenth-century warfare on the European continent greatly affected the city's legal trade. Because of Spain's involvement in those wars, the crown was periodically forced to permit trade with neutrals, thus throwing the port of Buenos Aires open to non-Spanish trading partners. The English invaded the city twice (1806 and 1807) during the Napoleonic wars but were defeated by militia units composed of local residents. The new political climate born of the heady victories over the world's most powerful nation raised the city's political consciousness. In May 1810, in a town council meeting called to discuss the region's future, participants voted to depose the viceroy and create a ruling junta. Thus Buenos Aires became the first region successfully to declare itself free from Spanish rule, foreshadowing the revolutionary period that followed.
See also Colonialism ; Spanish Colonies: Peru.
Socolow, Susan M. "Buenos Aires at the Time of Independence." In Buenos Aires: 400 Years, edited by Stanley R. Ross and Thomas F. McGann, pp. 18–39. Austin, Tex., 1982.
——. "Buenos Aires: Atlantic Port and Hinterland in the Eighteenth Century." In The American Atlantic World, edited by Franklin W. Knight and Peggy K. Liss, pp. 240–261. Knoxville, Tenn., 1991.
Susan M. Socolow
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SOCOLOW, SUSAN M.. "Buenos Aires." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Retrieved June 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404900148.html
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